Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Morning TV Showdown

The normal Sunday morning TV script for a racing weekend reads like this. NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 9AM for one hour, then RaceDay on SPEED at 10AM for two more hours. Finally, a third hour of pre-race show from the network actually televising the race. If that sounds like a lot, hold on.

This final Sunday in Homestead is going to see SPEED expanding RaceDay to three hours in length. That means both NASCAR Now and RaceDay start at 9AM ET. Let the fun begin.

Nicole Briscoe will anchor NASCAR Now from the Infield Pit Studio. Field reporters are Mike Massaro and Marty Smith. Briscoe can also draw from her infield companions Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Ray Evernham. As this is the final race of the season, perhaps a Dale Jarrett or Andy Petree sighting is also possible.

Allen Bestwick, who will be hosting the race and post-race is the key to the ESPN franchise. He has proven himself to be a steady voice amid chaos at times in both the TV booth and production truck. Bestwick has been there and done that for many years on both TV and radio. His love for NASCAR is real, his devotion to selling it to the fans is easy to see and if he is not in the ESPN TV booth next season calling these races it would be a crime.

Massaro and Briscoe have kept the NASCAR Now franchise on point this season during tough times. ESPN2's scheduling issues where NASCAR is concerned are well known. Smith and other on-air personalities like Ryan McGee, David Newton and Terry Blount have served the sport very well even while often delivering tough news.

The 9AM NASCAR Now and the 12PM NASCAR Countdown show may look quite similar. There are only two sets of stories to discuss. One is the Chase and the other is the race. Most fans know where the drivers are going next season, what kind of cars they are driving and who are the sponsors.

That means a pretty intense focus on the three drivers left in the Chase for the Championship. ESPN presents a rather formal show with on-air talent in suits and ties both in the studio and out in the field. It's a network thing, so look for a well-produced but rather scripted hour at both 9AM and noon.

RaceDay is actually produced by the NASCAR Media Group for SPEED. This is a much different scenario than programs like Race Hub, The SPEED Report and Wind Tunnel that are produced in-house. RaceDay is in many ways a third-party show.

TV veteran Patti Wheeler has recently taken over the production and programming departments at SPEED. There is little doubt that one significant change is going to be the balance of power between programs produced by SPEED and those "packaged" by third parties, including the NASCAR Media Group.

RaceDay currently features John Roberts hosting a panel that includes Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace. Sunday, FOX favorite Darrell Waltrip will also be added to the main panel for the full three hours. Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler are the infield reporters.

Another addition for Sunday is the trio of Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds holding court on the man-made beachfront in the infield. These three join the discussion on various topics and also handle some sponsor elements.

Over the past four years we have called RaceDay the Super Wal-Mart of NASCAR, the Speed-a-palooza festival and several other terms that do not bear repeating. Basically, RaceDay is controlled chaos mixed with a dash of opinion and a smattering of news.

Fans have recently discovered that unique signs held behind the set get the attention of folks on websites and those chatting online. Keep an eye out for what is being displayed behind the panelists on Sunday. "Nothing says team like ditching your crew" was the best sign recently at Phoenix.

Venturini has been a part of this show for a long time. Now on the verge of delivering her first child, Venturini has once again proven to be an outstanding example of a television professional. Nothing has slowed her down this season, but the loss of her acclaimed "Real Deal" interview feature sure put a big dent in the program.

Hopefully, Venturini can migrate over to SPEED's Race Hub and also perhaps get an opportunity to host The SPEED Report in the 2011 season. Whatever needs to be done, it's going to be important to keep Venturini in the TV family even as her own family expands.

Friday night, Darrell Waltrip was added to the TV team for the truck series race and dominated the commentary. Rick Allen was unable to add his normal level of excitement to the race because Waltrip threw-off the rhythm of the on-air crew. It should be very interesting to see if Waltrip steps into RaceDay and tries to take over. Perhaps, Petty might have a little something to say about that.

This post will serve to host your comments on NASCAR Now and RaceDay. To add your comment on these two programs, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, we will be live blogging the Sprint Cup Series race on a new post at noon ET.


Anonymous said...

Ohhhh boy, we will likely see blundering Brian France make his annual "state of the sport appearance" on SPEED'S Raceday Show. He always appears so disheveled and stumbles through the interview.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning! JD, I agree AB would be best in PxP but that is only part of the problem. Could AB be put in the top chair (producer/director?) and straighten out everything? Thanks, MC

Vicky D said...

Oh no, Rusty is already pointing out that when Denny Hamlin starts the race he'll be behind by 83 points. This will be a long day!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Working on why AB is not hosting.

Daly Planet Editor said...

My fault! AB will do the race, the post-race and the 10PM wrap-up show.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Good show from NN this morning. Great features and good commentary. Those guys are starting on a good note, but they have a long day.

Textbookmgr said...

Like I posted on twitter, I'm selectivly watching Raceday because of DW. That is the only part of racing season that I'm glad after today that I won't have to hear much of him. I hope that speed re-evaluates what they do with him. I watch the truck race and noticed the disconnect between all in the both because of his constant interuption.

Let's hope that it can only get better..

Anonymous said...

As much a Nascar finatic that I am, I absolutely refuse to listen to four hours of jibberish before the green flag drops at 1:15pm. Can you imagine three hours of Kenny/Kyle??? They've shown the same race/interview footage so many times that the digital tape must be deteriorating. What would be revealing would be to record the pre race shows including the predictions and then replay it next week after the race is over.Run over an air hose,speed or cut a tire and all the 'expert' predictions go out the window. I supported the concept of the Chase when it was introduced,but have since abandoned it. There's just too much that can go wrong beyond your control to jeopardize 36 races worth of effort. We'll never know the truth regarding BF, but he's become one spooky dude! Sounds like he wants to tinker with the Chase format to reset points with a few races to go. Talk about contradictions-too long (500 miles) races are negated by double file green/white checkers and 36 race schedules boiled down to 2-3 race shootouts. I think BF is a closet fan of the WWE!

Daly Planet Editor said...

There sure is a lot of "stuff" on TV this morning.

Not too sure what it serves to have two shows live like that.

Anonymous said...

Will Brian France even show up today at Homestead or will Mike Helton award the Sprint Cup trophy this afternoon?

Anonymous said...

Hands down, NASCAR Now is the best pre-race show - Period. Professionalism at it's best.

Raceday on SPEED is more about showcasing the ego's of the participants - Hermie & Wendy excluded.

Daly Planet Editor said...

No Brian France at the tweet-up this year. I'll try to find out is he is on site.

Ken-Michigan said...

Hey John - good morning.

The race fan in me is genuinely excited today. Great day for a race and although it only happens once every 20 years or so, we have a 3 man championship race. Point system really needs a makeover.... but i'll save my "wish list" for NASCAR changes for another time.

The pre-race shows lost my attention long long ago, BUT this morning I'm curious to see what could they do "special" on this final race day of the season.

So far, they havent told me much. Just predictions & hypothetical situations for the championship. 3 hours is a long time to fill with offering what seems to be NOTHING.

I'd like to hear from NASCAR. Whether it's France, Darby, Helton...give me somebody in a nice sit down interview with some substance.

I'd like to see something in a roundtable fashion with Squire, Despain, Joy, Barney Hall, Steve Waid, Buddy Baker, Ned Jarrett, Tom Higgins. Get their takes on todays championship, changes & the future.

Just give me something "special". Something different. Not much effort from the various production staff's.

Lisa Hogan said...

Good Morning to everyone!

My TV has been on SPEED this morning. I did turn to NN during a commercial and without Bestwick, it's just too formal and monotone for me.

Raceday having different segments for the SPEED and FOX groups works for me.

I'm not ready for the season to end. I am ready to be done with ESPN.

Wishing everyone a great race! :)

Daly Planet Editor said...

This from reporter Bob Pockrass: Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress just had a 10-minute meeting with Brian France and Mike Helton in #nascar hauler.

So, we know Brian is there and we also know all three teams got a warning about interference, clean racing and possible penalties.

Anonymous said...

"Boys, have at it"...unless we tell you not to.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I still think that is going to come back to haunt them in the end.

Kind of like catering to the casual fan!

Sally said...

I just got home and turned on the TV. Happened to catch the sermon from coach Gibbs. I'm sorry, but I found that completely inappropriate. I have no problem with a pre race prayer, but this just put my back up big time.

rich said...

BF said need to tell the story better. ESPN - are you listening

Daly Planet Editor said...

New live race blog is up. See you there!